Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Government will import agricultural inputs for crop, livestock, fisheries and wildlife directly from the international manufacturers for sale to farmers at reasonable prices, a Cabinet minister has said. Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made yesterday said Government institutions will buy inputs directly from the manufacturing countries such as the Russian Federation, People’s Republic of China, India, Germany, France, Italy, Iran, Egypt and South Africa.
Zimbabwe will also import from Indonesia, Belarus, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, United States of America, United Kingdom and Malaysia among others. “The ministry has been directed to look for agricultural inputs and their acquisition directly from international manufactures. To that extent, the ministry is examining its various entities such as the Grain Marketing Board, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, Pig Industry Board and the boards to be established and re-established.
“Currently, the law does not allow these institutions to purchase without going to tender. We will be consulting with the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to look at administrative instruments to allow for such purchases,” he said.
He said the inputs to be acquired will enable the country to defend its land and agrarian reform. This, he said, is because the farmers have become a target in terms of the prices. Dr Made said when Government entities were given assignments and went to tender, the companies supplying purchased the goods worldwide at low prices, but would sell to the State at high prices.
“These companies have their rights and should not interfere with Government. If they want to sell to farmers they should do so at reasonable prices in terms of their margins. The imported inputs will not be for free, but will be sold at fair prices. At the end of the day, we should satisfy President Mugabe’s position that goods and services should be supplied cheaply. The country will also be competitive on the world markets,” he said.
“President Mugabe also reflected at how countries that undertook land and agrarian reforms for instance South Central America, North Africa and Asian countries were undermined. This is the demise they faced in price hikes some years back,” he said.
He said Zimbabwe was in a fortunate position as it had technical people who understood this problem although there were some who were quick to criticise price controls before understanding Government position.
“We have studied the problem properly and have been observing it over a long period. We are also going to look at on-farm resources; world over, Europe, Americas, Asia, the agriculture sectors of these regions are looking at organic material that can be raised to improve soil fertility along with water. These are the two critical factors impacting on production and constitute more than 65 percent of the success of a farmer. Mechanisation comes in third. In the case of Zimbabwe, we are looking at financial resources, human resources and physical resources for the farmer,” he said.
Dr Made said Government and the Zanu-PF party, which fought for land and was vilified, would do everything to sustainably exploit land and natural resources. On the issue of fertiliser imports, Dr Made said his Ministry was not responsible for clearing free funds for individuals and corporates willing to import goods as this was done by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
“If a company has free funds it should clear with the monetary authorities and should not approach the Ministry of Agriculture for clearance,” he said. Dr Made said Government would not buy inputs from those companies importing inputs as the State will follow proper procedures when buying inputs.
“The dispensation that has been given is for farmers. Corporates can import for both the 2017/18 agriculture summer and winter seasons, but not for sale to Government. All commodities that are imported for instance fertiliser; crop and livestock chemicals must comply with the phytosanitary regulations; particularly on Genetically Modified material in the country.
“We will not allow pesticides, insecticides and herbicides and fertilisers that do not meet our national and domestic standards. We will be very alert on this matter,” he said.